(Clarinda) – Changes could be coming to Page County’s wind turbine ordinance.
The Page County Board of Supervisors are scheduled to consider an amendment to the county’s wind energy conversion system ordinance at its regular meeting Tuesday morning at the county courthouse. The proposed amendment comes after the supervisors held two public meetings last month – one in Clarinda and one in Shenandoah – to gather public input on wind turbines. At the first meeting, Supervisor Alan Armstrong said the board was trying to do its due diligence on the issue.
“Probably our biggest concern—the three of us—we’re very concerned about 10 years, 20 years, 30 years down the road, where the county’s going to be, who’s going to be in charge, how that’s going to be protected,” said Armstrong. “That was one of the things we spent a lot of time discussing, and looking at, and trying to be aware of.”
Feedback from residents dealt with noise concerns, visual pollution and setback regulations. Kristi McEnaney lives near the Rock Creek Wind Farm in Atchison County. McEnaney, who also serves as a lease agent with Tradewind Energy, disputes comments that the turbines make too much noise.
“Personally, I think they’re majestic,” said McEnaney. “The noise doesn’t bother me. The grain bin closest to my house in the same direction—or in the opposite direction to the wind farm, or the closest turbine—makes just about as much noise—or actually more noise—than the wind turbines. So, it’s a lot worse to listen to my grain bin fan that to my wind turbines.”
At the Shenandoah meeting, Page County resident Jacob Holmes says the county’s current setback regulations – which require a wind turbine to be 1,500 feet from a non-participating home – have a serious gap.
“This ordinance allow for the company – in cooperation with your neighbor – to build a windmill by the numbers discussed with a 200-foot windmill, 220 feet from your property line or as close as,” said Holmes. “This would mean by the numbers given for your home setback distance for a non-participant at 1,500 feet, you would have about 1,280 feet of your land that you are no longer able to use in the way you wish as a landowner. You have your right to safely build on your own land that has been halted, and you received zero say or compensation for that.”
Holmes says he believes the setback should require 1,500 feet of clearance from a neighboring property line, with the property owner having the right to waive the requirement.
“For those who want them, this can be waived,” said Holmes. “All areas I saw you can waive rights at any moment. The ordinance allows for anyone to sign a waiver and allow windmills without the setback distance, but zero protections or compensation is given to those who do not want to participate, but lose their basic rights on their property.”
Saying the supervisors would consider amending the ordinance in the future, Supervisor Chuck Morris says the intent of meeting is to find a way to balance property rights with economic opportunities.
“Our intent in having an ordinance is to protect people,” said Morris. “I’m proud of that fact. Is it perfect? No, that’s why we’re debating here. How do we make this ordinance work best for everybody? It’s a tough issue. You have land rights that are important, whether that’s with a windmill or without a windmill.”
The supervisors meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in the board room at the courthouse.
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